No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

EMA withdrawal could force NEET levels up again


Training organisations have accused the coalition government of pricing young people out of the market after seeing an almost immediate drop in learner numbers following its withdrawal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.
Kevin Hayes, chief executive of one of Birmingham's oldest social enterprises - training agency Enta - and chairman of the city's Foundation Learning Forum, branded the axing of the grant a "backwards step".
"Removing the only financial support that many of these young people have to continue training is totally wrong, and can only make unemployment in the target age group even worse," he warned.
While five years ago, Birmingham had experienced NEET (not in employment, education or training) levels of 14.7%, schools, colleges, training and other service providers had worked "incredibly hard" to halve the figure to 7.7%.
But Hayes said: "I seriously expect that cutting EMA will force that figure up above 10% again when it is next measured in May. The sad fact is that some youngsters who genuinely want to train and get a job can't afford it without EMA."
The grant, which was introduced in 2004, provided young people aged between 16 and 18 from low income backgrounds with as much as £30 per week to pay for travel expenses and to help purchase books and other educational materials. EMA is now closed to new applicants, although learners already receiving the allowance will do so until July or until they move onto further education or training.
Mike Allerson, director at JAC Training, was equally concerned by the removal of the allowance. "We have noticed an immediate decline in the uptake of training opportunities since the removal of EMA grant support," he said.
The allowance acted as an incentive for learners to attend classes on an ongoing basis and commit to gaining qualifications. But its withdrawal had "put a financial barrier in place that impacts directly on those that need the support most. Many young people in our client group have enough barriers to climb without this additional one", Allerson added.
Hayes likewise confirmed that learner induction numbers at Enta had more than halved over recent months. While the organisation had expected 12 new students to join its courses in January, the number more than halved to five as the rest "couldn't afford to come".
Although Enta is now paying for learners' bus fares and is offering them a free breakfast, Hayes said: "There's a limit to what organisations like ours can do and we have to avoid a situation where youngsters choose training providers based on what financial incentives they offer, not on their location or what courses they offer."

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!